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Unclutter Your Life in One Week (Hardcover) Paperback – 2009
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One of my favorite sections of Doland's book, which I share with my clients, is an early chapter on dealing with sentimental clutter. Doland combines first-hand experience with the difficulties of letting go with some academic research that explains, scientifically, WHY it's difficult and, more importantly, how to COUNTERACT those difficulties with strategic efforts. Basically, she knows that it's hard to purge the sentimental items that choke off the space, but combines the heart and head to get to your fingertips -- to get the work done. Doland's tone is one of straight-shooting advice from a close, no-nonsense friend. She can be funny, but she takes the topic seriously.
The book doesn't focus overwhelmingly on the emotional side of organizing -- it's about the practical, so I need to say a word about the people who took the title of the book literally and seem dismayed that they can't actually organize thirty years and three house levels of clutter in seven literal days. Perhaps these are the same people who think that a television show showing the overhauling of a house in 22 minutes (plus commercials) is done in real time. "In One Week" was surely the publishing company's conceit, a metaphor for ordering the presented concepts.
That now said, I'm a fan of the way Doland has organized (heh) the book into task types by days of the week, to make the material manageable with three sections per day: morning, midday at work, evening. One part of home life is touched upon each weekday "morning" (wardrobe, bathroom, bedroom-to-commute, living spaces, scheduling); for the mid-day "work" category, Doland focuses on workspace and productivity -- office, files, communication, time management and routines; the evening brings the concepts back to the home -- "reception" (entry areas), chores, kitchen/dining areas, home office and living with clutterers. Doland saves the weekend sections for special organizing issues like self-care, travel, personal time management and relationships, and finishes the book off with tangible and digital resources. With this system, she's divided and conceptualized the areas of life to follow the flow of life.
(As someone who specializes in paper organizing and management, I'm particularly impressed with Doland's attention to Tuesday "afternoon" and dealing with paper, files, sorting, scanning and protecting systems. With limited space, she covered the essentials without being cursory, and identified clearly how to approach and tackle each task.)
The book is practical; it focuses more on holding attention (to drive activity) than emotional hand-holding. (Readers needing deeper help with ADHD, depression and other underlying causes of disorganization will want to combine the advice in this book with other support.) No self-help book can be all things to all readers -- this book will work best for people who are generally self-directed, who want to find that path from overwhelmed to mastery over the lives, and who are willing to attempt to make changes. Doland doesn't assume all readers have the same resources (financial, emotional, intellectual, relational, etc.) and skills (household, technological, interpersonal) but presents solutions and alternatives from which readers can choose in order to improve space, time, materials, head and heart.
Unclutter Your Live in One week is a great purchase if you need to dig out from under, but it would also be a superior gift for a new graduate, to help create and maintain the essential skills and systems for being a functioning grownup.
Later on I noticed that the preface was wrote by David Allen, that was a nice treat for me.
I love the first line of this book:
"I will need two copies of your book," my friend said.
"Two Copies?" I asked. "One for you and one for a gift?"
"No, both copies for me," she explained. "I'll lose at least one in all my crap"
This was me a long, long time ago, and I was so glad to read once again that people is open to talk about their messes.
The book is well structured, even that I think that will be hard for a person in my original state (before I read my first unclutter and organizing book in 2002) to acomplished on a regular week, but is full of great tips and information.